AFRICAN

ORCHIDS

Epipactis africana Rendle, J. Bot. 33: 252 (1895).
Homotypic Synonyms:
Serapias africana (Rendle) A.A.Eaton, Proc. Biol. Soc. Wash. 21: 66 (1908).
Helleborine africana (Rendle) Druce, Bull. Torrey Bot. Club 36: 546 (1909).
Amesia africana (Rendle) A.Nelson & J.F.Macbr., Bot. Gaz. 56: 472 (1913).
Arthrochilium africanum (Rendle) Szlach., Orchidee (Hamburg) 54: 588 (2003).
Heterotypic Synonyms:
Epipactis excelsa Kraenzl., Bot. Jahrb. Syst. 43: 332 (1909).
Description:
An erect terrestrial herb up to 3.5 m tall, covered with brownish hairs in most parts. Stem up to 1 cm thick at the base, 2 cm thick in the middle, purplish or bluish green. Leaves arranged along the stem, at intervals of 5-10 cm, lanceolate to ovate, strongly veined, up to 20 cm long, 9 cm wide, the lowermost reduced to sheaths, uppermost bract-like. Inflorescence elongate, with several or many flowers. Flowers hanging, not very conspicuous, greyish purple on the outer surface, greenish yellow within, some orange-brown on the lip; dorsal sepal lanceolate, acuminate, 2 cm long; lateral sepals oblique, ovate, acuminate, slightly longer; petals lanceolate to ovate, up to 2.5 cm long, with a warty, keeled midvein on the outer surface; lip up to 2.5 cm long, hypochile concave, warty, bearing long side lobes, epichile broadly ovate, acute, margins upturned, the warty callus on the midline extending to the base.
Habitat:
In evergreen and bamboo forests on the mountains, also among Pteridium, Erica and patches of coarse grass by mountain streams; recorded from Mt Elgon, the Cherangani hills, Mau forests, Aberdares and Mt Kenya; 2300-3750 m; flowers between October and January.
Distribution:
SW. Ethiopia to N. Mozambique